When I stand in Callahan’s General Store it’s hard to believe that the hipster East Austin and the intellectual University of Texas are just minutes away. It’s a very different side of Austin. The store is filled to the brim with all kinds of farming and ranching paraphernalia– and not because those things are cool these days, but because for more than 30 years, Callahan’s has been a busy hub for the real-life farmers and ranchers in the Austin area.
Callhan’s is a terrific place to visit with kids- especially on Saturdays when you’ll find pens of baby farm animals out in front of the store and just inside that kids love to watch and pet. When we were there recently, there were baby pigs, goats, and bunnies.
Sometimes there are miniature horses to see or Clydesdales being led around the parking lot. There is a back room filled with cheeping baby chicks and ducks. In the loading area, there are more animals for sale.
Visiting Callahan’s is a throwback to the days of small town general stores and family-run businesses. You’ll likely be greeted at the door by the friendly general manager, Mike Young, who really makes a point of knowing and enjoying his customers, city-slickers and farmers alike. Little touches like the child-sized grocery carts and a rooster-naming contest going on when I was there give the store a fun energy.
There is live music inside Callahan’s from 12-3pm most Saturdays. That’s also about the time the crowds start to get a little thick. If your kids would like some quiet time alone with the animals, plan to arrive earlier in the morning. Between 1000-1500 people come through Callahan’s on a given Saturday. You can grab a breakfast taco or barbecue from the people running the smoker out front. Wander in for backyard chicken or gardening inspiration or just for the people (and animal) watching. It’s definitely the place to get a feel for the sights, sounds and smells of agricultural Austin.
Callahan’s General Store
501 Bastrop Highway / 183 S.
Austin, TX 78741
Katey likes finding fun things to do with her kids that are off the beaten track. She writes about ideas for family activities at her blog Having Fun at Home.